ITV chief confronted over regional job losses

Allen: quizzed by shareholder

A lone journalist went against the grain of proceedings at ITV’s first annual general meeting this week by raising the issue of imminent job losses in regional newsrooms.

Griffith Vaughan Williams, a local newspaper journalist and long-term Granada Television shareholder, confronted ITV chief executive Charles Allen at the meeting in the City of London on Monday. He asked him to justify the relocation of newsrooms and the redundancies at Meridian and ITV Central.

“I referred to the Press Gazette article of 9 April about the Meridian problems and to other reports about closing down Nottingham and moving the newsroom to Birmingham,” he said.

He warned Allen and other shareholders that ITV’s regional news reporting would suffer if its journalists were moved away from their local areas. People would be more likely to take stories to the broadcaster based in the region, he said.

“As a journalist working on local newspapers, I know for a fact that people come off the streets and tell you stories. How can you possibly do that in the Kent area with a newsroom in Southampton? What people in Kent will do now is to walk into Tunbridge Wells to the BBC.

“I took Charles Allen to task two additional times on his answers. He replied that ITV had not stopped covering these areas, but he hasn’t got the point. You need to be there with your nose to the ground.”

Williams said Allen repeated his earlier declaration when the job losses were made public, that regional broadcasting operations were about people, not property.

Williams told Press Gazette he was “very surprised no one had asked any questions about the current problems as far as Meridian and other ITV regions go, other than myself”.

“I was very surprised there was not a bigger attempt to address the issue.

Broadcasting union Bectu handed out leaflets as you went in, but they were attacking the issue of the pay-offs to Allen and [ex-Carlton chief executive] Michael Green. They were doing it so politely you could have missed it.

They really should have gone to town on it. Take the opportunity to lobby your employers.”

The NUJ was not present at the meeting.

By Wale Azeez

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